Chocolate comes in many shapes and forms. You might be wondering about the difference between cocoa vs. cacao. Is there really any difference? The short answer is yes. The difference is both in terms of quality and in terms of pricing. The taste is also quite different. And when you add the various nutrition pros and cons you really start to see that each has its own benefits.
What You Should Know About Cocoa vs. Cacao
Cacao has been considered the best source in terms of nutrition and taste. Many chocolate or supplement manufacturers which focus on quality products prefer cacao due to the top quality taste.
So what makes cacao so special? Basically, cacao is less processed and it thus has a higher absorption rate by the digestive system. Some studies claim that cacao has the purest form of antioxidants from all foods. This means you can help your body recover and eliminate toxins easier. Other rich foods in antioxidants can also help, but none of them comes with a chocolate taste.
What is the process behind cacao production? The process requires very few steps. As the pods are collected from the cacao tree, they are separated from the white part, which is known as butter. The remaining bits are used to produce cacao.
There are many processing techniques. Some manufacturers only cut the bits into eatable pieces and package them before shipping the product all over the world. Other manufacturers transform this into a powder which can be used in chocolate and supplements production. The powdered form is easy to work with and this is why it is one of the most preferred forms of cacao to be bought around the world. Cacao is rich in fibers and natural fats, providing you with a unique and nutritious food source which has many health benefits. The fibers from cacao can help your digestive system.
Fibers are essential for intestinal health and they can be a good source of breakfast foods. You can add the powder or nibs to your favorite cereal in the morning to get a nutritious meal which is rich in antioxidants, has plenty of fibers and will boost your energy throughout the day. Cacao is also a good source of healthy fats. Healthy fats are essential for the human body. We cannot live without fats. In certain situations, fats are essential to the natural hormonal levels. This is why men need to have a good balance in the testosterone levels, which can be helped by consuming natural sources of fat such as cacao.
Cacao can also come in solid form. You can buy cacao bars which have been made by melting the cacao and it can be a good source of tasty and nutritious foods to your desserts. Cacao also contains proteins so it may be used in certain diets. Protein is good for muscle building and adding cacao to your daily meals can mean you`ll also get a protein boost which can sustain increased physical activities.
Cocoa powder is cheaper due to the manufacturing process thus more mass available. Many people find that cocoa powder from supermarkets is the version used in all recipes at home. Cocoa powder is made by applying heat and although it seems inferior to cacao, it is still a very healthy choice.
So why do people associate cocoa with inferior quality? It might be down to the manufacturing process itself. Many bigger brands add flavoring, preservatives and even colors. This is why you might consider looking for brands offering the purest form of cocoa.
So how does the heating affect the nutritional value of the cocoa? The percentage of the antioxidants remains high, although not as high as cacao. For most people, the difference is negligible. Gym goers know this situation very well. For example, the difference between whey isolate and whey concentrate is negligible. Although the isolate is purer, most people can`t see the difference unless at a very high level of physical conditioning. This is the same with cacao vs. cocoa. You should aim at products which are pure cocoa and no other types of mixes.
The taste itself should be naturally bitter. Dark chocolate is made with an added solution which reduces its acidity and also impacts its taste.
So what can you do with cocoa powder?
There are numerous recipes you can prepare with cocoa powder. From the classic milk and cocoa to complex desserts, you can really satisfy your sweet cravings with a quality product.
As said before, it might be a good solution to incorporate non-modified cocoa powder to your cereals in the morning. You will get the benefit of all the antioxidants, proteins and healthy fats early in the morning.
You can also cook with cocoa powder. Ideally, you want to use non-dark cocoa for your sweets. Dark chocolate is much richer in taste which recommends it be used outside the kitchen as plain chocolate. Some recipes, however, still recommends using dark chocolate even for baked desserts.
So how do the added ingredients affect cooking with chocolate? Many cocoa products come with added sugar which is hard to quantify in baking recipes. You should try avoiding products with added sugar or just use less sugar yourself to the final recipe.
So which one should you choose – cacao vs cocoa? There is a difference both of them but in the end, most people can`t be really that affected by the small difference. If you want the best product which comes at a higher cost but is more antioxidant rich, or if you need to cleanse your body as recommended by a specialist, you might be inclined to go for cacao. If you`re just regular user which prefers the natural taste and is not inclined to the healthier side you might go with cocoa. Even more, since you will be using it with various desserts which might contain sugar, there is no imperative need to concentrate on the purest form of antioxidants.